War Correspondents Memorial Arch
According to National Park Service photograph records at Antietam National Battlefield, PWA project number FP 420 (probably occurring between 1934 and 1936) was the repair of the War Correspondents Memorial Arch–a national historic monument–at what is now Gathland State Park. This appears to be one of several PWA-funded repairs of Civil War-related structures and sites in Frederick and Washington counties during the Great Depression.
A wayside marker near the Arch describes its origin and unique design:
“This stone Arch, the culmination of (George) Townsend’s architectural endeavors, was built in 1896 a permanent memorial to newspaper correspondents, artists, and photographers of the Civil War. Standing 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide, the Arch’s unusual design was inspired by two Hagerstown structures: the former B&O Railroad passenger depot which utilized a horseshoe-shaped arch, and the Antietam Fire Co. Station No. 2 which incorporated a crenelated tower. Names of 157 men from the North and South, who documented the Civil War, are inscribed in the east façade. Biblical and classical references to the skills of the war correspondents are incorporated into the design. The central sculpture bears symbols of war, speed, and storytelling. The Arch’s symbolic decoration reflects Townsend’s whimsical taste in art, further illustrated by Townsend’s verse: ‘The bookman’s art is left behind, and letters only vex. Write then in stone, ye minds of men! And live as architects!’”
The Arch appears to in good shape today—thanks, in part, to the New Deal’s PWA.
(1) Photograph records at the National Park archives building at Antietam National Battlefield. (2) “Gathland State Park,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources, https://dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/western/gathland.aspx, accessed June 27, 2014. (3) Information signs, plaques, and wayside markers at Gathland State Park.
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee - wpatoday.org on June 29, 2014.
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